Dozens of parents and educators rallied in City Hall Plaza Tuesday in support of several improvements to Boston Public Schools, which they say are long delayed and much needed.
The Boston Education Justice Alliance, along with over a half-dozen other advocacy groups from across the greater Boston area, organized the demonstration, which ran from 4 to 6 p.m.
Their demands included “reliable and consistent” transportation options, increased resources for multilingual students and families, further safety protocols for COVID-19, and “respectable” school facilities.
“None of this is too much to ask,” organizer Edith Bazile told the crowd. “We are hoping that everyone can hear us, and we will continue to amplify our voices. We know that Boston Public Schools works for some. But we’re saying that is not enough. Boston Public Schools must work for all.”
Too many schools in Boston suffer from a lack of diverse staff — noting that the district continues to fall short of federal diversity mandates — as well as old, crowded school buildings, demonstrators said.
“We are tired of having bathrooms with no running water,” said Bazile. “We are tired of having buildings with toilets that don’t work. We are tired of having schools with no libraries. We want buildings that have respectable cafeterias and gyms and science labs.”
Central to their demands, organizers said, is the creation of an elected school committee. Voters overwhelmingly approved a nonbinding ballot question on the subject last year, but educators say Mayor Michelle Wu is dragging her feet on the issue.
“How much longer do you expect those 99,000 voters to wait?” said Sharon Hinton, executive director of Black Teachers Matter.
Organizers said they had met with city officials, including Wu, earlier this year, but that few steps had been taken since then regarding the committee or any of the other issues.
Max Baker, a spokesperson for Boston Public Schools, said the district was committed to providing the best possible education for students, while acknowledging that “progress takes time.”
“While there are issues at BPS, we are working around the clock to identify and dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate institutional racism, as well as enacting a Green New Deal that will make our schools places for our students and staff to be proud of,” said Baker.
Bazile, the founder and executive director of Black Advocates for Educational Excellence, said in an interview that educators should not have to wait for political change.
“The solutions are with the community,” she said. “We know what needs to be done. ... We are at the precipice of redesigning what we call public education — and this should be done with the community, with families, and most especially, with students, because they are the direct recipients [of aid].”